Racing: Thief to steal a march

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The Independent Online
NEWMARKET'S Cambridgeshire meeting slides into comparative mediocrity this afternoon with the town's leading trainers eager to get the duff stuff out of the way and start the journey to Longchamp. Be honest: if you had runners in Paris this weekend, would you care whether one of your foot soldiers won the Charles Wells Eagle Bitter Handicap?

With six runners over the two days of France's most grandiose fixture, John Gosden will have easily justified his Saturday evening in Paris to his accountant. Before he goes, Sheikh Mohammed's principal trainer can bound another step closer to his first century of winners in this country with BEGGARMAN THIEF (nap 3.10), a hard-pulling but highly regarded freshman who had to exert himself less than a beach bather to win at Yarmouth last time.

Fitzcarraldo has the best credentials for the Somerville Tattersall Stakes, having chased home White Crown and then Petardia (in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster) in his last two races, but there is every likelihood that Gosden's bull-like colt will improve past him. Tykevor and Urgent Request - who won by 10 lengths on his debut - are the other principal obstacles to be frog-jumped.

Gosden and Luca Cumani (who trains Fitzcarraldo) could again be in conflict over the Main Reef Stakes, in which Inner City and Lord Chickney (3.40) are the two improving fastest. Keep a watch on River Defences, too. He was an easy winner at Newbury in May before succumbing to the virus ('he had it very bad', his trainer, Peter Chapple-Hyam, said yesterday) and has 150 lost days to make up for.

The sight of the best-bred horse in training (Zinaad) winning at Newmarket yesterday may produce some confidence behind Hazaam, who is by Blushing Groom (Nashwan's sire) out of the Irish 1,000 Guineas winner, Sonic Lady, and who contests the Supreme Stakes at Goodwood. Storm Dove (4.20) may just have edge here, though, while Delve (3.15) can win a poorly-contested Foundation Stakes.

She is the least slow of the eight runners.